Private television station in Portugal promotes Romani mayoral candidate
07 November 1997
The German daily Frankfurter Rundschau reported on October 22 that a private television station in Portugal was prompting a Romani man as mayoral candidate in a town which became famous last summer for having expelled a family of Roma.
The northern Portuguese town Vila Verde came into the national spotlight in August 1996 when, following accusations by neighbours that a local Roma family was involved in drug trafficking, the municipality expelled the family and tore down their house. The family then began an odyssey of several weeks through northern Portugal, during which they were systematically expelled from every municipality in which they attempted to settle. Frankfurter Rundschau quoted the mayor of the town of Briteiros, Mr Jose Gomes, as stating, "Gypsies have different habits from us. That's why we don't want them here." When the governor of Braga district, Mr Pedro Bacelar de Vasconcelos, attempted to intervene personally in the search to find the Roma family a place to settle, he was violently attacked by angry non-Roma.
Now, approximately one year after the expulsion, Portugal's first private television station, Sociedade Independente de Comunicacao (SIC), is actively prompting the candidacy of a 23-year-old Romani man named Jose Adelino Silva for mayor of Vile Verde. After an initial attempt to stand Mr. Silva on a local ecological party list failed, the Trotskyist splinter party Front of the Revolutionary Left declared themselves prepared to accept Mr Silva as a candidate. A member of the local council accused the SIC of "digging up a long-buried conflict to provoke the people of Vila Verde." Mr Silva commented on the situation, "I know that the SIC wants to use me to create a sensation. I'm using the SIC to do something for the Gypsies."